Let’s be honest here. How many people go to Ibiza for the culture and history? I’m not getting on any high horses here. I’ve been to Ibiza twice, and my first trip was a happy haze of sunburns, cocktails, and pounding electronic music.
As far as non-drinking culture goes? Umm…do foam parties count as one of UNESCO’s Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity?
(Okay. Maybe not.)
But this year, I did make time to see the sights. Even though Ibiza’s cultural and historical sights aren’t as famous as the nightlife, they’re still incredible. So here are the top 6 things to do in Ibiza that you don’t have to be drunk to enjoy.
6) Go to a hippie market
Ibiza’s mercadillos hippy sell all kinds of cute stuff, from gorgeous flowy white dresses to handmade artisan jewelry. I only got to briefly rush by one or two, but it looked like shopping heaven!
Two of the most famous ones are in Es Canar on Wednesdays and San Carlos on Saturdays, but there are markets every day of the week. Here’s a link to which markets are on every day (it’s in Spanish, but I’m sure even Google Translate can do a decent job conveying the important information!)
5) Take a hike
This one actually IS a UNESCO-approved activity (unlike foam parties). Why? Because Ibiza’s got an incredible amount of biodiversity. Technically, according to UNESCO, it’s “an excellent example of the interaction between the marine and coastal ecosystems”, which I’m pretty sure is just fancy talk for mind-blowingly awesome.
Check out this page for a list of recommended hiking trails. Or, do what I did and just walk along the coast towards the hills and see where you end up.
I came across a dusty trail that wound its way around crumbling windmills and an old necropolis. The rocky paths were surrounded by trees, bushes, and pops of flowers in gold, fuchsia, and turquoise. Every so often a lizard scrambled by and broke the silence. The sea dipped in and out of view until I got all the way to the top of the cliffs, where I got the feeling of really being on an island.
4) Visit the old city
Another site to check off your UNESCO list! This counts as the “culture” part of the UNESCO award. The proper name is the Dalt Vila (the Upper Town), and it’s basically a mini-city enclosed within an old castle fortress.
Explore the cobbled streets and you’ll find cathedrals, museums, restaurants, convents, shops, pretty plazas, and spectacular miradores that let you feel like the king (or queen) of the castle. Some parts look like the famous white villages in Andalucía, other parts look more like a stereotypical castle straight out of a movie, and still others just look like a regular neighborhood.
I had a bit of a struggle finding the entrance. It’s a pretty good sign that the medieval fortress still works – it was nearly impossible to get into (or out of) the damn thing. Foiled!
3) Watch the sunset at Café del Mar
I’ve already written about how much I like this, but let me just say it again: it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. You don’t even have to go into the actual café (although it is pretty cool inside).
Head to the general area, sit on the beach, and relax. This year’s sunset was so spectacular that everyone clapped when the golden sun finally sunk down beneath the waves and started turning the sky dusty purple.
OK, disclaimer here: while I know that it is entirely possible to do this activity stone-cold sober, I found it very enjoyable accompanied by a bottle of cava. But I think it would be pretty sweet without it too!
2) Check out the smaller islands and coves
My favorite was Formentera, a smaller island just a cheap ferry trip away from Ibiza. I got lost and went into a shop to ask for directions to a beautiful beach. “Corazón“, the shopkeeper smiled, “There are no ugly beaches in Formentera! They’re all pretty.”
After testing them out, I have to agree (although I am always willing to go back to make sure my sample size is big enough to be truly representative. You know, to be scientific). Cala Saona and the beaches at Seis Salinas were my favorites.
Ibiza’s also got some great beaches. Las Salinas is a beach rumored to be good for futbolista-spotting, soft sand, and water so clean it’s transparent (though I haven’t been).
I stuck to the beaches where the parties were (mostly in Playa d’en Bossa), but I did find this list of great beaches in Ibiza. There’s definitely no shortage of beautiful places to kick back and relax.
Expert tip: rent a scooter or Jeep for maximum fun! It’s pretty inexpensive and a great way to zoom around. I rented a cherry red Jeep with a bunch of my girlfriends on my first trip to Ibiza. I felt like I was living in Barbie-world for the day.
1) Just take drugs instead!
Totally joking!! Didn’t you read numbers 6 through 2? Give Ibiza’s non-party scene a chance – it’s (almost) as enjoyable as an all-night foam party.
Have you ever been to Ibiza? Did you see any of the cultural sights or just stick to the nightlife?